Victoria’s aged care response centre is actively monitoring 116 aged care facilities with coronavirus outbreaks as the centre marks a month in action.

It comes as Victoria reported 1,412 active cases relating to aged care facilities and the death of 22 more aged care residents on Thursday.

It is about 75 fewer active aged care cases than the day before but the number of infections and deaths among aged care residents continues to climb.

At least 1,756 Victorian aged care residents have tested positive to coronavirus since early July, and at least 363 of these residents have died while 336 have recovered, according to Federal Government data on Thursday.

Since its establishment on 27 July, the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre has responded to and stabilised eight acute outbreaks at aged care facilities that could no longer guarantee continuity of care for their residents.

In the first weeks of the centre’s operations, 13 aged care facilities were deemed high risk. Today there are three facilities in this category.

It is dealing with everything from infection control to workforce replacement and waste removal.

The response centre reported on Thursday it is actively monitoring and supporting 116 aged care facilities in Victoria that have COVID outbreaks.

VACRC executive officer Joe Buffone said the first month had been a huge operational commitment focused on being adaptive and providing rapid response.

Joe Buffone

“The coordinated effort has seen a stabilisation across aged care facilities and while we recognise that the pandemic is not over, we have experienced a reduction in facilities that require acute intervention.

“It has taken a united effort to tackle the pandemic which is as complex as it is extraordinary,” Mr Buffone said.

The centre combines more than 60 staff from 21 federal and state government and private sector agencies to deploy resources and expand state-wide operational capacity to provide continuity of care for residents and support the aged care workforce.

To date, more than 20,000 shifts have been filled by a Commonwealth-funded surge workforce measures to assist aged care facility managers.

Also as part of the centre’s response, Australian Medical Assistance Teams have completed 160 visits to 72 facilities to deal with the most acute outbreaks and provide practical infection prevention and control solutions.

At the same time the Aged Care Quality and Safety has worked with the centre to complete 100 spot-checks on facilities around the state, and Western Health has assisted with prevention measures at 33 facilities.

Waste up 100-fold at outbreak sites

To manage the huge increase in clinical waste being produced due to coronavirus outbreaks in aged care facilities, the centre is working with the private industry, the Victorian Government and regulators to secure storage containers, additional incinerators, rubbish collection and safe disposal and processing of the waste.

“Many facilities typically generate enough medical waste to fill one 240-litre wheelie bin per week, but those with active cases of COVID are now filling as many as 12 240-litre bins per day, or 84 bins per week.

“The response centre has worked to get the permit process streamlined for both collecting and safely disposing of the waste, and the Federal Government is funding additional waste collection services and the coordination of the waste management,” it reports.

Elsewhere, the response centre has facilitated close to 1,000 outbound calls to primary contacts of residents at eight aged care facilities, and responded to more than 700 inbound calls.

“There is always a human face at the front of our mind as we respond to these outbreaks – we are doing everything we can to help protect our most vulnerable seniors,” Mr Buffone said.

Largest aged care outbreaks

As of Thursday, active aged care outbreaks in Victorian with the highest cumulative case numbers are:

  • 211 cases linked to Epping Gardens Aged Care in Epping
  • 197 cases linked to St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Fawkner
  • 169 cases linked to BaptCare Wyndham Lodge Community in Werribee
  • 160 cases linked to Estia Aged Care in Ardeer
  • 140 cases linked to Kirkbrae Presbyterian Homes in Kilsyth
  • 120 cases linked to Cumberland Manor Aged Care in Sunshine North
  • 118 cases linked to Twin Parks Aged Care in Reservoir
  • 113 cases linked to Outlook Gardens Aged Care in Dandenong North
  • 112 cases linked to Japara Goonawarra Aged Care in Sunbury
  • 110 cases linked to Estia Aged Care in Heidelberg

Nationally, 1,827 aged care residents have tested positive to COVID-19, of whom 395 have died and 373 have recovered, according to Federal Government on Thursday.

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